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Seven Birthdays

January 18, 2010 Family No Comments

Today is Greg’s birthday. He got sick yesterday and feels only marginally better today. He spent most of the day at work feeling pretty miserable. In my opinion, what a terrible way to spend your birthday! On top of that, we are getting torrential rains and it is very cold outdoors (not to mention gray and ugly). I feel this is just the weather Greg would have ordered up for his birthday, if he participated in such silliness.

I met Greg 7 years ago, just before each of our birthdays. That first year, while I was still living in Kansas City, I did not know how much he disliked his birthday and wished the day would pass without anyone paying any attention to him. So, I did what any birthday-lover like myself would do and I planned a surprise birthday party for him. I was going to be in the Bay Area for the weekend and I thought it would be great fun. I enlisted his roommate’s help to “introduce” me to his friends via email. I then invited them all to a place I had never been to – Antonio’s Nut House in Palo Alto. The surprise worked out better than ever, considering Greg left work late and we showed up to his party about an hour later than any of us had expected… SURPRISE! I found out then just how much he dislikes his birthday and that he had NO IDEA that anyone could put so much effort into something as trivial as this. (I also knew at that point that I had a steep uphill battle getting him to care about MY birthday as much as I do!) We had fun, but it took quite a few shots for Greg to be comfortable as the center of attention. Later that weekend, I surprised him by telling him I had a job offer to move to California full-time. This surprise was amazingly well-received!!

The only other really notable birthday was Greg’s 40th. I knew he didn’t want to be celebrated publicly. I knew enough not to plan a party and that he dreaded any kind of fanfare on this day. So, I secretly planned a trip to the island of Kauai, HI for the two of us. It would be a long weekend getaway and I had taken care of everything, including getting the okay from his boss for the time off. My plan had been to surprise him THAT morning by waking him up at 5:30 (my usual wake-up time) and saying, “Get up! We’re going to Hawaii!” Melody’s husband Phil advised me that I should maybe give him a good 12 hours to warm up to the idea, as excited as he might be… I am SO glad for “Dr. Phil’s” advice! So, I cut out the Hawaiian islands from an old map and put a big arrow on it that said, “You Are Here” and then printed out our boarding passes for our flight leaving the following morning. I invited him to Kingfish to have a cocktail that evening — which immediately set him on edge for a big surprise party with all his friends. Ha! We were enjoying some steamed mussels when I pulled out the envelope with the surprise. He.Was.Shocked. So shocked he didn’t know what to say or do. It was not quite the, “Oh my God! This is so fantastic!” that I had hoped for… We went home and silently packed for our trip. My feelings were hurt. He was in planning mode. Ugh. The trip turned out to be great once he got into vacation mode, but I learned a lot about Greg in that one transaction.

Most other years have been celebrated with a card and maybe a small gift, usually a nice dinner. This year, I bought him a few things from Gap that he will assuredly exchange and I made his favorite cookies — oatmeal chocolate chip. My mom went above and beyond, as usual. We’re staying in tonight, having leftovers. I’d be having quite a pity party if it were MY birthday. But Greg couldn’t be happier.

Happy Birthday to Greg!


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